IBIS policy on gender equality

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1 IBIS policy on gender equality The gender policy aims at contributing to changing the unequal power relations between men and women and the unequal position in society held by men and women related to full and equal enjoyment of rights, participation in decision-making and access to and control over resources. The gender equality policy is considered an important tool to make IBIS vision a reality. The vision reads: In the year 2012, the impoverished are representing themselves, regardless of social status, race, gender and ethnicity. They demand that their individual and collective rights be respected; they want their fair share of political power and an equitable part of the planet s wealth. The gap of inequality between men and women is being narrowed, so that both sexes may have a say in decision-making, gaining equal rights and access to resources. Moreover, significant steps have been taken towards sustainable global development - Vision IBIS recognises that the unequal power relations between men and women constitute a crucial obstacle for achieving democratic development and for combating structural causes of poverty and social and economic injustice. In most societies institutions and structures are predominantly shaped by men and based upon patriarchal cultures and values maintaining subordination of women. Throughout the world women have less power and opportunities than men. They face enormous barriers to holding public office and to participating in decision making in matters that directly affect their lives, whether these relate to public institutions, community level, civil society organisations or to the household and the family. Compared to men, women have less access to and control over resources upon which they depend such us land and water, employment, training opportunities and information. Likewise, girls and women have less access to adequate education than boys and men, and the disparity in completion of basic education is even more significant. Cultural conceptions concerning the traditional roles of both girls and boys are widely being reproduced in the education systems. In many societies, women s sexual and reproductive rights, including the right to take decision over their own bodies, are violated. Gender based violence, including rape and sexual harassment is widespread. Millions of girls and women are prevented from protecting themselves against HIV/AIDS due to their inferior status in society and in the family. IBIS commitment to promoting gender equality is deeply rooted in a rights-based approach to development. For IBIS gender equality - and the rights of women and girls - is seen as an integral and indivisible part of human rights both individual and collective rights - and a fundamental condition for achieving social justice. 1

2 IBIS will support the struggle for equal rights, equal opportunities and obligations for women and men in regard to areas such as equal rights to exercise full citizenship, equal access to quality education, equal access to health services, equal opportunities to participate in political and economic decision making, equal rights to legal protection and equal rights to access to and control over economic resources such as land, income and other productive assets. Within education in emergency activities IBIS has decided to put special emphasis on girls and women. IBIS recognises that the promotion of gender equality and equal rights for men and women have to take into consideration the cultural, ethnic and linguistic characteristics of the societies adjusting the approaches used to the different cultural settings, but without subordinating women s rights to any of these or other considerations. IBIS has increasingly worked with the integration of a gender perspective in our development work. This experience has led us to acknowledge that women s empowerment and the recognition of women s rights as human rights are essential for achieving a democratic and sustainable development. From the experiences we have also learned that achievement of gender equality is not the responsibility of women alone. We have all both men and women the responsibility for continuously struggling for gender equality. If sustainable development is to be achieved, both men and women must be involved on equal terms in the decisions that affect their lives. IBIS is fully committed to channelling energy, effort, and resources into processes that create a society that values women and men, girls and boys equally. Guiding principles to promote gender equality: At the institutional level: Gender equality must be considered as an integral part of all IBIS strategies, programmes, information, advocacy work and personnel policies. IBIS will ensure that adequate resources, including staff training, are allocated to the development and implementation of the gender policy. IBIS will encourage the commitment at all levels of the organisation to ensure an enabling environment that promotes and facilitates gender equality. Programme development in the South: Promotion of gender equality concerns men just as much as women, and is not exclusively a women s issue. IBIS therefore will develop, promote and apply creative ways of encouraging men to involve themselves more actively in the work for equality. Women s empowerment is central to achieving gender equality. Through empowerment, women become aware of unequal power relations, gain control over their lives, and acquire a stronger voice to overcome inequality in their home, workplace and community. Ensuring the equal participation of women as agents of change in economic, social and political processes is essential to achieving gender equality. 2

3 The achievement of gender equality implies changes for both men and women. More equal relations will need to be based on a redefinition of the rights and responsibilities of both men and women. It is therefore necessary to work with the construction of a masculinity that is sensitive to the new roles of young boys and men in different societies. The development of the programmatic work (thematic programmes) is based on gender aware analysis in order to identify strategic ways to contribute to the reduction of inequalities between women and men, taking advantage of the potentials, opportunities and resources of both men and women. Clear, measurable and achievable gender objectives are developed in the earliest phase of the programme process and the programmes are constantly monitored and evaluated against gender equality indicators. Methodology development to make the inclusion of gender objectives effective at the operational level of the thematic programmes is an important aspect of the programme development. Partners commitment to promote gender equality is a key criteria for selection of partners. Public image, information and advocacy: Information, campaign and advocacy initiatives reflect IBIS commitment to promoting gender equality. Gender sensitive language and images will be used in all communication. The Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Discrimination against Women, the Beijing Platform for Action, as well as the DAKAR goals and the Millennium Development Goal concerning Gender Equality constitute an important frame for IBIS and partners advocacy for promoting gender equality. Definitions of the terms gender equality and gender equity The gender terminology operates with two terms gender equality and gender equity that has to do with changes of gender power relations, equal rights, access and control over resources as well as influence and political participation. Especially for non English native speakers it has been quite difficult to make a clear distinction between the two terms. In this policy we use the term gender equality as it covers the aims we want to achieve with the policy. The definitions below are used by most of the development agencies and NGOs. Gender Equality means that women and men have equal conditions for realizing their full human rights and for contributing to, and benefiting from, economic, social, cultural and political development. 3

4 Gender equality is therefore the equal valuing by society of the similarities and the differences of men and women, and the roles they play. It is based on women and men being full partners in their home, their community and their society. Gender Equity is the process of being fair to men and women. To ensure fairness, measures must often be put in place to compensate for the historical and social disadvantages that prevent women and men from operating on a level playing field. Equity is a means. Equality and equitable outcomes are the results. (Quoted from UNESCO s Gender Mainstreaming Implementation Framework, latest update April 2003), Example to illustrate the steps to gender equality: If we want to achieve gender equality within education a first step of change could be to create an equity mechanism, e.g. education legislation that ensures free and compulsory education for all boys and girls, and/or establish a scheme of scholarships with specific focus on girl s education. These measures will contribute to eliminating inequality and disparity in access to and completion of education, creating the permissive structures and formal environment for boys and girls to enjoy the same rights. However, equity measures alone often do not necessarily contribute to the eradication of the gender discrimination and inequality within the education system. New strategies and measure have to be implemented in order promote more radical changes in social attitudes to boys and girls education and changes in the socio-economic conditions. To achieve gender equality in education we also have to work with power relations in the school itself, non discriminatory treatment, and quality of education to ensure equitable learning achievements. Short information on the most relevant conventions and agreements regarding the promotion of gender equality 1) The Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW) adopted in 1979 by the UN General Assembly (and presently adopted by 177 countries) is often described as the international bill of rights for women. The convention provides the basis for realising equality between women and men through ensuring women s equal access to and equal opportunities in political and public life, including the right to vote and to stand for elections as well as education, health and employment. Furthermore, the convention states that all existing laws, customs, and regulations that discriminate against women should be abolished, and national constitutions and civil codes should embody the principle of equality. State parties agree to take all appropriate measures, including legislation and temporary special measures, so that women can enjoy all their human rights and fundamental freedoms. 2) The Beijing Platform for Action from the Fourth World Conference on Women in 1995 addresses equality between women and men as a matter of human rights and a condition for social justice and also as a necessary and fundamental prerequisite for equality, development and peace. The Platform for Action established 12 critical areas of concern for promoting the status of women, e.g. related to education and training, power and decision-making, human rights and reduction of poverty. 4

5 The Beijing Platform for Action was reconfirmed at the UN Beijing+10 meeting in February/March also as an condition for achieving the UN Millennium Goals 3) The Dakar Framework of Action, from 2000 and the six Education for All Goals have a specific focus on gender equality, e.g. as stated in the goal 5: eliminating gender disparities in primary and secondary education by 2005, and achieving gender equality in education by 2015, with a focus on ensuring girls' full and equal access to and achievement in basic education of good quality. 4) The UN Millennium Development Declaration from 2000 also focuses on gender equality as a necessary precondition for combating poverty, hunger and diseases and for promoting sustainable development. The goal no. 3 reads: Promote gender equality and the empowerment of women 5) The ICPD Programme of Action agreed upon at the International Conference on Population and Development held in Cairo in 1994recommends to the international community a set of important population and development objectives. The Programme of Action is striking for the attention it devotes to the issue of women s health. It also includes goals in regard to education, especially for girls, and for the further reduction of infant, child and maternal mortality levels. It also addresses issues relating to population, the environment, prevention and control of the HIV/AIDS pandemic, education and technology among others. The implementation of the ICPD programme of Action is essential in achieving the Millennium Development Goals. 5

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